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Festival weekend is here!

Less than 24 hours until the 2017 Social Justice Art Festival kicks off!

Open from 12-6pm, the festival is free, fun, and accessible to the public!

Come and view amazing artwork from over 40 artists, enjoy treats from local tea and coffee vendors, and participate in installations and performances!

March 18th, 2017 — Trotter Multicultural Center


InterPlay Workshop During Festival

Saturday, March 18
3 – 4pm

Social Justice Art Festival executive board member Kara Crutcher will be hosting a one-hour Interplay Workshop!

InterPlay allows people to access their stories, movement and voice through simple games. It is a worldwide movement that creates community connection, playfulness, and functions as a tool for social justice work. Interplay is used in schools, prisons, churches, and many other spaces. Join us for an afternoon of meaningful connection and play.

Festival Workshop Announced!

Political Graphics Workshop

1pm – 3pm; Trotter Multicultural Center

During the Social Justice Art Festival: Saturday, March 18th

Join activist artists Susan Fecteau and Leslie Sobel for a hands on political graphics workshop. We will learn about materials for posters, banners and chalking with a focus on practicalities like layout, stencils, carrying straps, keeping costs down and legalities. You will leave with a sign and weather permitting we will do some chalking.

Susan Fecteau is well known for her tenacious chalking about the Flint crisis. She has chalked tirelessly around Governor Snyder’s downtown residence to make sure the people of Flint are not forgotten.  Leslie Sobel’s work is climate focused and political in content. Fecteau and Sobel brought a large number of signs and banners to the Women’s March in DC and have taught many people skills to make their political graphic work more effective.

If you would like to attend, RSVP HERE:

2 big banners in front of white house

Social Justice Art Festival 2017

Saturday, March 18
12pm – 6pm

Trotter Multicultural Center
1443 Washtenaw Ave Ann Arbor MI 48104

Sponsored by University of Michigan’s School of Social Work

This year’s theme is In Our Space: Using Art to Name Our Reality.

At the festival, we will host a variety of artistic pieces all related to the theme and social justice, including paintings, photography series, musical performances, and interactive installations. Admission is free, and there will be locally sourced and cultivated coffee and tea available for a small fee.

We are still collecting art submissions here:

And are also taking applications for folks who would like to volunteer to work at the festival:

2017 Festival Announcement!

We are extremely excited to announce that the annual Social Justice Arts Festival is returning to the University of Michigan!

This year’s theme…

In Our Space: Using Art to Name Our Reality

Festival Date: Saturday, March 18th 2017

Festival Location: Trotter Multicultural Center

Brought to you by the University of Michigan School of Social Work


Art submission period is now open! We welcome all genres and mediums of art that relate to our theme, In Our Space. Submit your piece online here, or by emailing

Featured Artist: Alexandra Nassif

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Alexandra Nassif

My name is Alexandra Nassif, and I am a social work student here at U-M. I aspire to a career in community-based policy advocacy, and have been working toward this goal as an MSW student focusing on community organizing and children, youth, and families. Before studying at U-M, I earned my BA in International Studies in my home state of Iowa, focusing on human rights and environmental issues.

I have a strong connection to creativity as self-care, and amateur photography is one creative outlet that I have enjoyed for many years. While my portfolio is largely focused on the natural world, my photo series that will be displayed in the Social Justice Art Festival explores the stark psycho-social dichotomy my classmates and I witnessed while visiting the Arizona-Mexico border.


Questions about violence and vulnerability abound when we talk about immigration in general, and the physical US-Mexico border specifically: Who is vulnerable? Who feels vulnerable, and why? Who is perceived to be violent? Who is actually violent? Who is allowed to be violent, and why?

The context of these questions is multifaceted. Racism, xenophobia, the military- and prison-industrial complexes, and the politics of fear interact with economic policies rooted in a history of colonialism to create the incredibly complicated and often inhumane structure of current US immigration and border enforcement policy. And unfortunately, these questions arise not only when we discuss immigration and the border, but also when we tackle police brutality, gender violence, foreign policy, and other pervasive social and political issues.


The psychological, social, and cultural dynamics of power along the border are impossible to ignore, or even to completely comprehend when they are not part of our personal stories, and I hope to offer only a glimpse of these dynamics in my display piece. I believe it is important to remember that “there is no neutral gaze in photography.”* I also believe that audiovisual technology can be a powerful tool for bearing witness to injustice and inequity, and bearing witness is one thing we can do in the present when we are faced with systemic issues we cannot change overnight. I appreciate this opportunity to share what I have witnessed, and hope my photos will be a tool to help us reflect on   the fallacies and imbalances of violence and vulnerability in our society.

To view more examples of my work, I invite you to visit my photo blog, Photo Spock.


Work cited:

* Trudy (2014, August 9). There is no “neutral gaze” in photography [Web log post]. Retrieved


Featured Artist: Carmanie Bhatti

IMG_1772Carmanie Bhatti

My name is Carmanie Bhatti. My given middle name is Olive. I like to work on social justice projects and help people look at life with an understanding that is necessary for their growth. I have always admired beauty, talent, art, skill, and my very famous quote that I add is “wherever I see a combination of these, I do not hold myself back!” Yes, that is true. I find beauty in everything, because there is so much beauty in us and the nature around us. But, besides beauty, where there is question of finding beauty in death and suffering. I have tried to address that through my poetry, photography, and paintings. My understanding about social justice is relative to expression through different means, whether it be arts, or the use of our hands, bodies, souls, minds and strength. In order for us to address the topic of social justice, we need to make sure how are we addressing, and to whom? Words matter a lot, and can be a source of healing or metaphorically speaking, terrible injury to our neighbors.

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When I worked on my first social justice project in IL, I discovered that I am named after a fruit, but an evergreen fruit and an evergreen tree. I resonate myself with the image of an Olive, while my first name also means an evergreen fruit and tree, respectively. I made use of this analogy, and answered questions about oppression and vulnerability.

Life is full of challenges, but my whole journey is about loving my neighbors with zeal, and compassionate heart, and helping them receive insight into issues of social justice so that together, we learn to live in harmony and brotherhood.

As a poet, I am used to speaking in metaphors, as a photographer through striking pictures that touch hearts and sink in memory, and as a true lover of art, through images in paintings. Through this very poem, I have shared my journey and understanding of life, its challenges, sufferings, and new life, but will leave it for the readers to absorb themselves into its message.

Hope you enjoy reading my poem and seeing my painting, which is an illustration of this poem.

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